2002 Season NFL Football Past Picks

January 19, 2003

This pick was released to clients on August 13, 2012 at 5:29PM ET.

19

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

Sunday 01/19 03:00 PM Eastern

4 units on Philadelphia -3.5 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64)  RESULT: LOSS

52-12. No Touchdowns. 1-21 in games below 40 degrees.

These stats don’t mean a thing according to Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Eagles knocked Tampa Bay out of the playoffs the last two years by a combined score of 52-12. Tampa couldn’t score a touchdown. And, Philadelphia won the matchup this year 20-10. Will it be different this year?

The fact that Tampa Bay players and coaches are going out of their way to say that history doesn’t matter tells me they are scared – very scared. It’s as if they think that saying something over and over, in public, will make it true. The funny thing is, they haven’t supplied any GOOD reasons why it won’t happen again. They “can’t explain it” but promise that it will “be different this time.” Uh-huh.

Jon Gruden said “If we sit around and are real deep, philosophical people, maybe you can let it get to you. But if you stay shallow and zoom in on the immediate future, we're both undefeated in the 2002 postseason. That's how I look at it.” Help me Jon, why is it going to be any different this time around?

We all know this matchup features two of the league’s top defenses. It all comes down this: Which offense can score against the brick-wall that will be facing them? I think it will be harder for Tampa Bay than for Philadelphia.

Tampa Bay’s win last week against San Francisco looked impressive. They won 31-6! But I contend that at least half of that victory was due to the fact that San Francisco, a team lucky to be there, simply didn’t show up. As you know, I called for an easy Tampa Bay win. However, a lot of that was based on the matchup advantages and the way I expected SF to play – not just due to Tampa’s strengths. Tampa Bay got five turnovers in a home playoff game after an extra week of rest – they damn well should have won by 25 points!

This week will be different. They have to go on the road and play in the cold against an awesome team that simply has their number.

As I stated last week, this Tampa Bay offense is completely dependent on Brad Johnson. With him, they are a very good team. Without him, they are horrible. Tampa Bay does not have a running game – period. They average less than 100 yards per game on the ground and only 3.8 yards per carry. I too would be scared if I was a one-dimensional team against this Philadelphia Eagles defense. Expect the Eagle’s blitzers to have their ears pinned back more than usual, which is saying a lot.

If Brad Johnson gets hurt in this game, Tampa Bay will get destroyed. If McNabb happens to leave the game, Philadelphia may not lose a beat.

And, Philly’s defensive strength is against the pass! They have three Pro Bowler’s in their secondary. And, their rush package speed is going to disrupt the very immobile Brad Johnson a great deal. This is exactly what happened earlier this year.

I ask you – who on this Tampa Bay offense is going to have a big game against Philadelphia’s defense? In the cold? In Philadelphia? With that field? And those fans? I could go on and on. Philadelphia is allowing just 6.3 points per game in their last three.

This is the tougher game to call this week. It really could go either way. Tampa is just so good on defense, and I really respect Jon Gruden. Also, my power ratings give Tampa the slight edge. Turnovers and defensive touchdowns are the wildcards in this game. However, knowing that those things can’t be predicted, Philly is the way to go.

In reality, maybe 52-12 and 1-21 are not important numbers. But I can tell you this – if Tampa gets down, or it is a close game, these numbers will be forefront in their minds. And, the power of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” is strong. They will lose hope, resigning them selves to the fact that those numbers actually might be important after all.

If you like sure bets, stay away from this one. However, I like Philadelphia and will make them a pick.

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